Shoplifting & Self-Checkouts

Shoplifting - Defending Self Checkout Thefts

Self Checkouts & Theft Under

As self check outs become more common, store security monitors what goes through looking for incidents of theft and frauds. Many times scanning machines and human error can result in allegations of theft, even for those who did not intend to commit a crime. As defence lawyers, our role is to investigate the case thoroughly and identify all available defences.

One potential defence is whether the accused made an honest mistake while using the self-checkout machine or did the machine. With many items to scan, it is possible that the accused forgot to scan an item, scanned the wrong one by accident, or did the machine mess up? In such cases, we can argue that the accused did not intend to steal and should not be held responsible.  Another issue is how did the store security ascertain the scanning error?

It is also crucial to note that self-checkout machines are not always accurate, and errors can occur. As defence lawyers, we can investigate and question the machine’s functionality, including whether it has a history of malfunctioning, which could lead to a false accusation.

Moreover, we can scrutinize the accuracy of the store’s security measures. Did the store have adequate cameras and personnel to monitor the self-checkout area? Was the accused falsely accused due to a lack of security measures in place? These are all factors that we can investigate to build a strong defence for our clients.

Types of Self Checkout Theft

Incidents of allegations of self check outs theft can include:

Not scanning all the items: One of the most common ways people are charged with self check outs is by not scanning all the items they have in their cart. However, it is not always easy for the prosecution to prove that the accused did this intentionally. The prosecution must show that the accused intended to steal the item and did not simply forget to scan it.

Switching the price tags: Another way people are charged is by switching the price tag of an item with a lower-priced one and then scanning the item at the self-checkout. This can be more difficult to defend, as it is more clear that the accused intended to steal the item by paying a lower price.

Represented Court Appearances

Benefits of a lawyer on your side

Contact Ontario Shoplifting Lawyers

Where you retained our legal services, the accused does not have to appear in court.  The lawyer acts under a legal term called a Letter of Designation. The letter of designation allows the lawyer to appear on behalf of a person charged, and can be a valuable tool in resolving criminal court cases.

Having a lawyer appear on behalf of the accused can provide several advantages in resolving the case, because:

  • Saves Time: The accused doesn’t attend court and making the life of the crown attorney easier, as they’ll discuss the case with your lawyer, in a more favourable pre-trial setting.
  • Legal arguments: Legal arguments and defences can be shown to the Crown Attorney, potentially leading to a reduction or dismissal of the charges against the accused.
  • Pre-trial discussions: Pre-trial discussions out of a courtroom setting are dramatically more productive for resolving charges. The lawyer is allowed to contact the crown attorney prior to court to review and discuss the case. This gives the crown time to review the matter rather than in a first appearance setting, with many people looking to discuss cases and ask questions.
  • Good character evidence: the lawyer has an opportunity to present evidence of your good character including reference letters, leading to a dismissal or reduction.
  • Demonstrates good intentions of accused: Where the accused has retained a lawyer, this shows to the Crown Attorney that the accused is taking the charges seriously, potentially leading to a more lenient stance in the case.

Additionally, Pre-trial discussions between the lawyer and the Crown Attorney can help establish a dialogue and potentially facilitate a resolution to the case outside of the courtroom. Our lawyers use this opportunity to negotiate with the Crown Attorney as a tool to reach a favorable outcome for the accused.

Steps to Protect Your Future

Being charged with a criminal offence from a self check out is a serious issue. Take the steps to protect your future to avoid the debilitating consequences of a criminal record.

As criminal lawyers we see unrepresented people leave court with criminal records, that could have been avoided.  Persons who appear unrepresented put themselves and family at jeopardy.

The crown attorney is to prosecute criminal matters brought before them by the police.  The crown attorney is not at court to help you, give you advice or assistance. Nor, is it the crown attorney’s job to worry about whether you receive a criminal record or not.

When when charged with any criminal offence, speak to one of our criminal defence lawyers. Our lawyers provides quality legal defence that will help you at an affordable one time fee.

As criminal defence lawyers we have one goal, to drop your charges without a criminal record.  Give us a call today, let’s discuss your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my friend appear in court for me?

No.  The release form that you agreed to requires that you appear in court, not a friend or relative.

Where the accused does not attend the court will issue a “Bench Warrant” for your arrest.  The bench warrant directs the police to apprehend you, take you to a police station and bring you before a judge forthwith.  Where there is no sitting court, persons arrested on warrants are held in custody (jail) until the next court sitting.

The police “may” release you on a summons to appear, which is again another notice requiring a court appearance.  Whether you are released at the police station will depend upon the discretion of the “officer in charge” and the circumstances of why you failed to appear in court.

The officers responding to the warrant for your arrest may also add an additional charge of “Failing to Appear for Court” which is dramatically worse than any shoplifting allegation.

I missed the court date. What should I do?

The notice that the police officer gave you is a commandment to appear in court.  The officer asked that you promise to appear and you agreed.

Where you do not appear in court, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.

Where you realise that you have missed the court date either by error or otherwise we recommend that you appear at the police station where you were charged from.  Once there you surrender yourself to the officers and explain to them that you have missed a court date.

The officers will “re-arrest” for the offence of Fail to Appear under the Criminal Code of Canada.  The will take you into custody, process you and then bring you before a judge.  Depending upon the circumstances the judge will release you on a second promise to appear for court, or hold you in custody pending trial.

Where a person does not surrender themselves, the warrant is issued for across Canada to all security services and border officers and stays in effect under the accused is apprehended..

What determines what penalty I receive for shoplifting?

Once your case appears before a crown attorney they will review the case and the police officers disclosure (officer’s notes) about what happened.

The crown attorney in reviewing your case will look at many factors including:

  • What was taken and value
  • Who took it and why,
    • was it a simple mistake or was it planned
  • What happened during & after arrest
  • The background of the accused,
    • do they have previous convictions or warnings
    • age, financial background, what you do, do you do any volunteer work
    • what is your position in the community

The background of the accused, what happened and what was taken.  All of these factors will be reviewed by the crown prior to any discussion about the charges and any penalty for shoplifting.

The security was rough and abusive, can I complain?

Yes you can complain, and it may help your case, but you need to review these issues with our lawyers.

Although you can walk into the court and say the officer was rough with you, it won’t carry much weight with the judge.  In that situation, the judge may state that the officers actions are not the issue. Any complaint about officers should be taken up with the police or security management, not the court system.

The better time to discuss this is, having our shoplifting lawyers set up a pre-trial meeting with the crown attorney to discuss these issues together with the discussion about the charges, and your good character.  During this process, where the actions of the police and security may have been aggressive, it can help in negotiations to have your charges dismissed and dropped.

Discuss your case with a shoplifting lawyer | Call today

Being charged with a criminal offence is stressful, but you don’t have to face it alone. Call and speak with a lawyer and learn how we can help you. We provide effective and affordable legal representation for all individuals facing these charges throughout Ontario.

Work with a lawyer experienced with theft under charges. Invest in your future by keeping your record clear. Yes you might be able to appear by yourself, but if something goes wrong, then what? Call today and let’s just talk about it.

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